Woman who killed family up for parole
WARREN – Trumbull County’s prosecutor is opposing the first chance at parole for 62-year-old Judith Morris Delgros, who already has served nearly 20 years for the 1978 murder of her husband and 5-year-old son.
Delgros’ high-profile murder trial was perhaps the only time a murder victim’s remains were displayed in front of a Trumbull County jury.
Before the 1993 trial, the victims of her crime – her husband and son – had been passed over as victims of an accidental trailer fire in Vernon.
But after the trailer fire case was closed for about 15 years, it came out that Delgros had stabbed her husband, Donald Morris, to death. She then set the fire to cover up her crime, allowing her 5-year-old son, Christopher Styles, to die in the blaze.
Delgros’ possible involvement with witchcraft or Satanism came into play during the trial after investigators found books on the occult in the remains of the trailer and a severed human ear nearby that was marked with triangles and symbols.
”Delgros claimed the family was asleep and a furnace explosion caused the fire, even though neighbors in a trailer 10 to 15 feet away heard no explosion. She did not have a scratch on her and personally made no effort to save her children,” according to Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, who opposes any prison release for Delgros, who has a parole hearing scheduled in February.
Delgros’ oldest son, Edward Bridge, who was 9 when he survived the fire, was in jail in Pennsylvania as an adult on a rape charge when he told Trumbull County sheriff’s Lt. Dan D’Annunzio that he saw his mother stab Morris four to five times in the back moments before the fire started. He served as a key witness.
Watkins said he thinks another person who had an important role in the trial was Dr. Douglas Owsley, a forensic anthropologist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution who handled the skeletal remains while explaining to jurors how he figured the murders were committed.
After the two bodies were re-examined in 1993, it was found that Morris was in fact stabbed several times.
Delgros was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms after the trial in Judge W. Wyatt McKay’s courtroom. She had re-married for the fourth time in 1978 after the fire and years before she was charged with the murders.
In the fall of 2000, producers of the Arts and Entertainment cable television network’s “Investigative Reports” researched the case for an episode that aired in early 2001.
Watkins points out that since there was no capital punishment in Ohio in 1978, Delgros was not eligible for the death penalty, even though he points out that the commission of more than one murder while committing the felony of arson along with a victim under the age of 13, all constitute death penalty specifications.
”There is a special place for persons who murder their own children and it is not in Ohio, the United States, or any other land on earth and afterwards, it is not heaven. It is prison, then that other place,” Watkins wrote in a recent letter to Ohio Parole Board.